Is earth-shattering change necessary to increase your F&I income by $300 per retail unit (PRU)? That would equate to an increase of somewhere between 40 and 100 percent depending on your current performance. Does that require a 40- to 100-percent increase in your job performance? No! It can really be done with just a 10-percent increase. I’m sure you’re thinking I’m using fuzzy math, but I’m not. Getting 10-percent better on all areas will grow your F&I numbers exponentially and give you the significant change you’re looking for. Commit to a 10-percent increase and watch your F&I numbers soar. Here are some suggestions.
It always starts with expecting to do it. When Thomas Edison invented electric light he failed more than 100 times before finally discovering electricity. Herb Brooks took the U.S. Olympic Hockey team to a gold medal finish back in 1980 when no one expected it. That year the Russian team was considered head and shoulders the best hockey team in the world. They had even beaten our professional players earlier that year. Herb took a bunch of college kids and won. No one expected them to win, except Herb. That is where it started, one man’s expectation.
Improving Sales Ability
So, how do you increase your sales ability by just 10 percent? Start by using a planned presentation. Which one? The one you have enthusiasm for. Since all sales are simply a transfer of enthusiasm from yourself to the customer, use the approach that makes best sense to you, but make sure you follow that process everyday. I am aware that customers’ have different buyer personalities, so handle their personal objections and get back on plan.
If you already use a planned presentation, say menu selling, look for another way to get your increase. That might be going to a credible F&I seminar. It might be reading sales material. It could also be consulting with an F&I manager who is already getting the production you want to achieve.
The important thing is to get involved in your own development program. When you are sharpening the saw, you see yourself more positively as a salesperson.
Get involved in training in your dealership. I wish I had a $100 bill for every time an F&I person told me how his untrained salespeople were. I typically respond with the following question: “What are you doing to train them?” Many times he’ll say, “It’s the sales manager’s job to train them, not mine.”
The best F&I managers are active in their dealership’s training program. They regularly participate in the store’s sales meetings. They sit down with each new salesperson and say, “I am Ron Martin, the business manager here at the dealership. Since 75 percent of your customers will finance their purchase, the function I perform has a significant impact on your sales. Could we sit down this afternoon so I can review exactly what it is that I tell your customers after you sell them the motorcycle?”
Not only are you improving this area by 10 percent, you’re making a big step toward being promoted. Since powersports dealerships are selling organizations, good trainers are worth their weight in gold.
Our role is crucial to high customer satisfaction. The customer’s monthly payment terms and financial arrangements play a central role in their buying decision. Using customer satisfaction to lead into your product presentation is an excellent way to make customers happy and the F&I department profitable.
Regardless of what planned presentation you use, this approach will get you that extra 10-percent edge you’re looking for. This approach will build the rapport that you’ll need to make your product presentations more effective.
Buy the F&I Product You Like the Least
This is a variation from what I usually recommend. My recommendation to buy all the products you sell, which I still stand by, is usually met with resistance. That’s why I offer this compromise: Buy the F&I product that is least attractive to you. Not only will you be able to tell the customer why you own it, but buying the product that’s least attractive to you continuously reinforces why the product is valuable. The more you buy into the value of a product, the easier it will be to convey that benefit to the customer.
How many times is this going to happen before you do something about it?
It’s a typical Monday morning. You hit the snooze alarm a couple of times before you get up to take on another week. You and your wife are trying to get the kids off to school, and of course, there are the other hectic activities you take on each week. The only reprieve you get is when you get into the car to head off to work. That is, until you get cut off by an inconsiderate driver. Once you arrive at the dealership, there is the stack of deals that need to be handled and the pile of messages you have to respond to. This is going to be one of those days!
At about that time, a salesperson shows up at your doorstep with a big smile and a husband and wife. He says, “This is Mr. and Mrs. Doyle. They just bought a motorcycle, so I guess they see you next?” What’s running through your mind at that moment? I know you want to rip the salesperson’s head off. But instead, you politely ask the customers to have a seat in the lobby so you can prepare for them.
What is the chance you are going to sell these customers anything now that they just observed you irritated with their enthusiastic salesperson and pushed them aside? It’s probably not very good. So, what’s the solution?
Schedule a sales meeting with all the salespeople and relay this message: “I’d like to enhance our turnover process by changing things up a bit. My purpose is to be able to get your customer in and out of the finance office more efficiently and improve our customer satisfaction. Please come and inform me in all cases, even if it’s a customer with just a question, that you have someone here to see me. Once we put our heads together on what’s the best course of action, I will come out to the showroom and get the customer.”
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Ron, you don’t get it. I am a one-person F&I operation, I don’t have time to walk across the lot just to get a customer. And what if it rains?!”
Yeah, and that’s even more of a reason to do so. “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Doyle, it’s good to see you again. I have all your paperwork ready to sign. Why don’t you join me under my umbrella so we can walk over to my office and get you in and out as quickly as possible?”
What better chance is there for you to build rapport without taking up valuable time in your office? This approach will ensure you are prepared for the customer and will allow you to more effectively manage your time. It also allows you the opportunity to mentally prepare before taking care of the customer.
Get Rid of Limitations
I can count how many times I’ve heard, “Our store is different; we get a lot of cash customers.” Another excuse is, “I can’t achieve those F&I numbers with a sales team that quotes exact payments,” or “Our sales people can’t be changed, especially John. He sells 30 percent of the motorcycles around here and doesn’t turnover. And another thing, John’s the dealer!”
Do these excuses sound familiar? Well, guess what? While some F&I managers focus on the negative, others look for a way to succeed. You’re always going to face obstacles, but focusing on them will give you the same results you’re getting now. Working on improving them will get you that 10-percent edge you’re looking for.
Get Started Now!
Don’t wait till later. Change needs to happen immediately and flamboyantly. Write down all the keys to your success. I’ve given you a start, but the list goes on with sales meeting, payment management, leadership skills, goal setting, and so on.
Once you have your list, evaluate each category for a subtle change that can give you a 10-percent edge in that area. Now put together a plan of action that is measurable, flexible, clear, concise, and written down. Finally, prioritize your objectives and begin implementation.
Write me sometime and tell me about your expediential growth in income and your new lifestyle! I’d love to hear from you.
Ron Martin is the president of Vision Menu Inc. and The Vision of F&I Inc. He provides F&I sales and compliance training, as well as electronic menu solutions to powersports dealers. He can be reached at [email protected].